Theoretical themes of this blog, part one

Mark Austen Whipple
2:33 pm

  1. Economic activity increasingly revolves around the collection of social-psychological data and data analysis;
  2. Economic actors generally lack precise social-psychological data, and this is bad for the interests of these actors;
  3. Instead, economic actors have an abundance of ‘aggregative’ data;
  4. Aggregative data are valuable because they provide insight into a population, but the use of them by particular economic actors operating within particular contexts can easily result in an analytical fallacy — just because something is precise and true for a whole, doesn’t mean it’s precise and true for each individual part of the whole
  5. Data become more precise representations of the underlying reality (valid), from the point of view of a given actor, the more contextualized the data become;
  6. Which is a way of saying economic actors need contextualized social-psych data to complement aggregative data;
  7. Contextualized social-psychological data takes qualitative social-psychological methods, especially the in-depth interview;
  8. Economic actors need qualitative social-psych analysis at the speed at which they act, in something approaching an efficient manner;
  9. The problem is qualitative social-psych methods can be wildly inefficient;
  10. Whether efficiency can be achieved on a large-enough scale remains unanswered;
  11. Which is a way of saying that, ultimately, in terms of their merit as economic value, the primary question about qualitative social-psychological data going forward is not whether they provide greater validity (they do, from the point of view of individual actors) but whether they can provide the greater insight in a cost-effective fashion;
  12. Facebook’s main contribution is its combination of high cost-effectiveness and medium validity;
  13. The goal of a privatized qualitative sociology would be to combine high validity with at least a medium cost-effectiveness.
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